Written by Connor Wilkie
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during post-secondary education may be difficult, but it is still possible. Brent Boland, a personal trainer at Movati Athletics, was able to make the Algonquin College gym work during his time at the college.
Boland is a graduate of both the pre-health and the fitness and health promotion programs at Algonquin. Throughout it all, Boland was able to maintain a healthy lifestyle by using the on-campus gym.
Although these gyms vary from institution to institution, if students commit to using them, they can be extremely beneficial.
A big factor in their favour: they’re right there. “Accessibility is one of the most important things for students working out at an on-campus gym,” Boland says. “It’s easier if you can get there between classes or whenever your schedule will allow.”
A downside to their great location: a lot of people are in on the secret. One issue with on-campus gyms seems to be how high traffic they can be. This can make the availability of equipment a problem. The trick to managing this: don’t go when everyone else does.
“Peak times are typically in the evenings,” says Priya Narine, assistant manager of fitness programs at the University of Ottawa, who works out of the Minto Sportsplex. “We actually record our traffic. We record it every half hour; typically for this gym, 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. has the highest traffic.” Their other gym, Monpetit Hall, is busiest between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Algonquin and Carleton University recorded similar data for their peak times.
One way to avoid these high traffic times is to go in the morning. The morning tends to be the time of day with the least amount of traffic. Working out in the morning also has unique benefits.
“A lot of the people who work out in the morning tend to see better results because it puts you at a jump start for the rest of the day. It sets the tone and leaves you feeling good for the rest of the day,” says Boland. “It can relieve stress, especially come exam time. Working out also releases a lot of positive hormones and endorphins. It’s also a good way to take a break from studying. It’s good for your health, especially when you’re a student eating a ton of garbage.”
In some cases, off-campus gyms are just not affordable for students. Zach Rochefort, a uOttawa student who uses the Minto Sportsplex on-campus gym, explains how he used to use an off-campus gym before switching.
“Gyms are a pretty big expense if you do pay for a membership,” says Rochefort. “I used to pay for one. It was a fairly small gym downtown and it was still costing me a fair bit of my paycheque. It’s included in your tuition so if you’re gonna come to a gym and you’re tight on cash but you’re paying for tuition anyways, you might as well use the school gym. It’s free for you.”
For uOttawa and Carleton students, membership is included in the tuition. Even though Algonquin does not include their membership in tuition, it is still relatively affordable for a student. Membership rates for Algonquin range from $140 for four months and $300 for a full-year. That breaks down to $35 a month for the four-month membership and $25 a month for a full year.
As for equipment, it varies at each campus. Out of the three gyms, uOttawa has the largest and most robust fitness scene. Students can work out at both the Montpetit Hall gym and the Minto Sportsplex gym.
That being said, Carleton and Algonquin both have their own unique perks. Algonquin leads in the number of cardio machines and also allows students access to a sauna and a plethora of free classes, ranging from pilates and Zumba to yoga. The Carleton gym, in addition to having the same sort of classes, is open later than both Algonquin and uOttawa gyms.